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Wine Country finds: Eat a great meal, then stay the night


A nice luxurious meal in a beautiful place. What could be better?

A room for the night just up the stairs or down a manicured path, that's what. Destination restaurants within inns or hotels are a luxury in and of themselves, the perfect pit stop for a mini, gustatory summer getaway.

Bardessono and Bardessono Restaurant

Bardessono is like a summer night's dream, full of eco-chic soft woods, inviting sunning and swimming areas and seasonal cocktails. A LEED-certified luxury hotel (one of only three such hotels in the world), Bardessono also features its own restaurant, where Chef Sean O'Toole is committed to all things seasonal and locally sourced. That includes goodies from the hotel's own garden, which guests are invited to forage. Dinner options are listed under categories - "Field and Forest," "Ocean" or "Pasture and Range." The bar and wine list highlight organic, sustainable and biodynamic producers.

6526 Yount St., Yountville, 204-6000, www.bardessono.com.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Sante Restaurant

This sprawling luxury resort has everything one can imagine on its gigantic, thoughtful property. But lately the draw has been Sante, its in-house restaurant (open to the public) where Chef Andrew Cain has been racking up awards and accolades, including a Michelin star. Expect locally inspired Sonoma foie gras, grilled quail, Kobe beef, roasted Sonoma duck and Bellwether Farm ricotta as well as cerebral experiments like a chilled asparagus soup "espresso." Winemaker dinners are held once a month.

100 Boyes Blvd., Sonoma, 938-9000, www.fairmont.com/sonoma.

H2hotel and Spoonbar

The latest addition to the local eat, drink and sleep scene, Hotel Healdsburg's baby sister (just down the street), h2hotel is meant to be a more casual and affordable option. It's designed for the more casual, less monied set looking for a great place to hang, where a modern aesthetic meets a comfortable, rustic mood. Sit by the solar-heated creekside pool for a drink or borrow a complimentary bike to ride around town - but definitely eat. The hotel houses "modern Mediterranean"-inspired Spoonbar, bringing back to the area both chef Rudy Mihal, formerly of Odyssey in Windsor, and bar chef Scott Beattie, the modern mixology master of Cyrus. There will be pitcher cocktails.

219 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 922-5251, www.h2hotel.com or www.spoonbar.com.

Hotel El Dorado and El Dorado Kitchen

A "farm-driven" restaurant and hotel right on the Sonoma Plaza, El Dorado offers a sun-filled dining room in the middle of the action or lots of quieter outdoor seating on the garden patio beneath a very special fig tree for more private tete-a-tetes. The wine list is, as expected, stellar, but don't miss the chance to taste a house drink — the Peach Jalapeno (sliced jalapeno peppers, Absolut Peach, fresh lime juice and white cranberry juice) will put a spark in your step.

405 First St., Sonoma, 996-3220, www.eldoradosonoma.com.

The Lodge at Sonoma and Carneros Bistro and Wine Bar

Part of the Renaissance group, the Lodge at Sonoma has plenty of luxuries, from a full-service spa to quiet rooms with private balcony. Within the property's 10 acres of private oasis is Carneros Bistro, a spacious, sunny spot for dinner, where Chef Janine Falvo focuses on California cuisine, sourcing veggies from the restaurant's own vegetable beds just outside the bistro's French doors. Thursday nights are all about the "Celebrity Wine Tender," when a local winemaker or educator is on hand to pour.

1325 Broadway, Sonoma, 935-6600, www.thelodgeatsonoma.com

Mount View Hotel and Spa and JoLe and Barolo Restaurants

A stately place to stay right in the heart of Calistoga's sweet downtown, the Mount View blends the best of old and new, elegant yet pampered. Unique to the hotel are its winery suites, named for nearby producers Rombauer, Raymond, Hans Fahden, Flora Springs, Bennett Lane, Tres Sabores, Storybook Mountain and Markham. Completely remodeled, each suite comes with wine from the appropriate winery. On either side of the lobby are not one but two must-try restaurant options: JoLe, committed to a farm-to-table concept, and Barolo, a good mix of wine bar and lip-smacking Italian food.

1457 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga, (800) 816-6877, www.mountviewhotel.com.

Solage Calistoga and Solbar Restaurant

Set on 22 acres in view of Mount St. Helena, Solage may be the best place to stay in Calistoga, with eco-friendly studio cottages and cruiser bicycles on hand to ride into town. And it's also one of the finest places to sit poolside for a meal or a drink, something you don't have to be a guest of the resort to do. Under Chef Brandon Sharp's culinary prowess, the sunny Solbar has earned a Michelin star for its food. Try the summer squash bruschetta while it's still in season. From the bar nothing beats Sex in the Valley, a cocktail made from Charbay vodka, mint and thyme.

755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga, (866) 942-7442, www.solagecalistoga.com.

Virginie Boone is a freelance wine writer based in Sonoma County. She can be reached at virginieboone@yahoo.com or visit wineabout.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.